Image: CCAMLR /FIS
Argentina seeks international consensus to protect the biodiversity of the South Atlantic
Wednesday, December 07, 2022, 05:40 (GMT + 9)
In Hobart, Australia, the 41st meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources was held, in which our country promoted the defense of toothfish stocks and other endangered species in Antarctic waters and its adjacencies.
Argentina seeks international consensus to regulate fishing activity in the south of the South Georgia Islands in sustainable parameters, where the illegal occupation of the United Kingdom granted permits for toothfish fishing without the necessary agreement of the Commission for the Conservation of Living Resources Antarctic Mariners (CCAMLR), while simultaneously working to harmonize krill fishing in the north of the Antarctic Peninsula with the Marine Protected Area project that it promotes together with Chile for that region.
Argentine diplomats and scientists traveled in November to the Australian city of Hobart, headquarters of CCAMLR, to participate in the 41st meeting of this multilateral mechanism created to protect the biodiversity of Antarctic waters and their adjacencies.
This meeting was the first in which the delegations of the 26 member countries, the European Union and the 10 adherents met face to face again after two years of virtual negotiations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In this area, Argentina is working to protect the stocks of toothfish in the South Atlantic, affected by the unilateral decision of the United Kingdom to grant fishing permits in waters over which CCAMLR regulations do not recognize sovereign rights and where the The consensus of the rest of the members of this multilateral mechanism is to avoid fishing activity without first establishing protection measures for marine biodiversity.
The secretary of the Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic of the Argentine Foreign Ministry, Guillermo Carmona, stated in a dialogue with Télam that "what is currently happening with toothfish fishing south of the Georgian Islands is an episode that accounts for the critical situation of CCAMLR as a multilateral area because we are facing a flagrant violation of this mechanism by the United Kingdom".
The director of Antarctic Foreign Policy, Fausto López Crozet, who participated in the meeting in Hobart, told Télam that "the Antarctic Treaty covers everything south of the 60th parallel, but what CCAMLR seeks is to follow the Antarctic convergence, which is the area where the colder waters of the south collide with the warmer ones of the north and create a whole specific ecosystem; then in the case of the South Georgia Islands area it reaches the waters that surround them as well as the South Sandwich Islands".
"All the countries that are part of the CCAMLR system recognize its operation, within the system there are islands that belong to France, others that belong to Australia, others to Norway and in all of which there is sovereignty recognized by all the members of each country can apply national rules, while the only case in which national measures cannot be applied is in the South Georgia Islands because there is no state sovereignty recognized by all because the United Kingdom does not recognize our sovereignty and Argentina along with others countries does not recognize the United Kingdom," he said.
The official recalled that "for 40 years, the CCAMLR regime has been working to manage fisheries in the South Georgia Islands, the French or Australians can take unilateral measures on their islands, but the United Kingdom cannot do the same in ours."
López Crozet pointed out that the conflict arose "last year when Russia did not give consensus for a conservation measure to determine the catch limits in that area, with which the understanding of the rest of the CCAMLR members was that if there was no consensus In conservation measures you could not fish, however, the British considered that due to their claim to sovereignty they could take unilateral measures and they went fishing alone".
"Those who were fishing there, which were Uruguay, Chile and New Zealand, stopped doing it because they understood that there was no conservation measure that enabled it and even the United States, the main importer of toothfish, did not accept imports from that area because there were no multilateral conservation measure that validates fishing," he said.
The diplomat added that "four British-flagged fishing vessels financed by British and Norwegian capital remained operating in that area. It is no coincidence that at the meeting the only member country that came out to support the United Kingdom was Norway, which in the second week Ukraine joined him in a surprising way".
"At CCAMLR all decisions are made by consensus, both Argentina and other countries understood that what the United Kingdom was doing was illegal fishing and we sent the vessels to the provisional list of illegal fishing, there is a procedure in which we indicate that there was a Grade 3 non-compliance, the most serious and the only ones that opposed it were the United Kingdom and Norway; but since the decision is only by consensus and everyone has to agree, there was no sanction against the United Kingdom," he added.
Regarding the possible sanctions, the official pointed out: "we send notes throughout the year to the CCAMLR secretariat explaining the situation, we speak with the main importers and most of the countries tend to have our position; there is a documentation system of capture and we ask that the British do not have access, but as it is by consensus it was not possible either, that is why we are talking with the importers to ask them not to buy from them".
What Argentina offers, Carmona explained, is to organize a scientific campaign to analyze the stock of toothfish in the area and, based on that scientific knowledge, advance within the CCAMLR framework with the necessary conservation measures.
"The National Institute for Fisheries Research (Inidep) has been investigating ice fish stocks in that same area for years, so adding to that experience the task of monitoring toothfish would be a tool to return the situation to the multilateral management mechanism. ", he stressed.
In this sense, Carmona remarked that "the objection raised by Russia did not enable the United Kingdom to break the rules of the game, the British violated that principle of the 'international order based on rules' and in addition to breaking with the logic of CCAMLR They also violate the United Nations resolution that prohibits unilateral actions in an area where there is a sovereignty dispute."
"Argentina is historically committed to the rules of multilateralism and that consistency and predictability makes it a factor of stability in the Antarctic Treaty system and also in CCAMLR; we encourage consensus, we reject unilateral measures and we express concern about the degradation of multilateral spheres by geopolitical tensions," the official concluded.
The Argentine delegation in Hobart was chaired by López Crozet, and made up of the Argentine Ambassador to the Commonwealth of Australia, Máximo Gowland, Counselor Cynthia Mulville, Secretary Javier de Cicco, Ms. Paola Gucioni, as well as scientists Marina Abas and Emilce Rombolá, among other scientists from the National Antarctic Directorate/Argentine Antarctic Institute, and the expert Enrique Marschoff.
Author/Source: Julio Mosle/TELAM